A few students who come to Mount Holyoke are on the J-1 visa. If you receive a form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange-Visitor Status), you will apply for a J-1 Exchange-Visitor visa.
Travel and Re-Entry
Students on the J-1 visa generally may enter the US for the first time up to 30 days prior to the start date on the DS-2019 form. They may travel abroad and re-enter the US throughout their studies here, provided that they have a valid passport, a valid J-1 visa, and a current DS-2019 form endorsed by one of the advisors in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
30-Day "Grace Period" at Completion of Studies
At the end of their period of study, J-1 visa holders have a 30-day "grace period," during which they may travel within the US, visit friends, or prepare for their return home. If you wish to transfer to a graduate program or apply for Academic Training after the completion of your studies here, you must complete all of the necessary paperwork to do so prior to the completion of studies (that is, prior to Commencement); you may not extend your stay or apply for Academic Training during, or after, the 30-day grace period. If you wish to remain in the US as a tourist for more than 30 days after Commencement, you should apply for change of status to tourist; we can provide you with the appropriate form for this purpose, which you must file with the USCIS prior to the end of the 30-day grace period.
Two-Year Home Residency Requirement
Although students on J-1 visas may apply for post-graduate study or Academic Training, they may be subject to a two-year residence requirement when they complete their studies in the United States. In other words, after their return home they will not be eligible to enter the United States for two years on certain types of visas (including permanent resident and H-1B temporary worker), nor may they apply to change to those visa categories within the US. It may be possible to re-enter on other visas such as B-2 tourist, F-1 student, and the J-1. This residence requirement ensures that the student's home country will benefit from the education she has obtained in the United States. Field of study and source of funds determine whether a student will be subject to this requirement. If you have financial support from the US government and/or your home government, you will almost certainly be subject to this requirement; and if your field of study appears on the "skills list" for your country, you will probably also be subject. When you apply for your visa, you can ask the Consular Officer to indicate on the DS-2019 form whether or not the residence requirement applies to you. There is a mechanism by which students who are subject to this requirement may request a waiver of it, in which case the first step is to contact your Embassy and ask for a "no objection" letter.